In a recent case in downtown Los Angeles, a man pleaded guilty to hacking into Instagram users’ accounts in order to fraudulently obtain money. Amir Hossein Golshan, 24, engaged in “SIM swapping” to hijack the victims’ accounts and carry out various online scams. Golshan targeted social media influencers and their friends, convincing them to send him money through Zelle, PayPal, and other platforms. Additionally, he impersonated Apple support personnel to gain unauthorized access to victims’ Apple iCloud accounts and steal valuable digital property, including NFTs and cryptocurrency. Golshan’s scheme caused approximately $740,000 in losses to hundreds of victims over several years. He now faces a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Charge against ‘SIM Swapper’
In a recent case in Downtown Los Angeles, a man named Amir Hossein Golshan has pleaded guilty to three felony charges. The charges include defrauding victims through the illegal practice of “SIM swapping” to gain unauthorized access to Instagram accounts and obtain money.
Plea of guilty
Amir Hossein Golshan, a 24-year-old resident of Downtown Los Angeles, has admitted his guilt in the charges brought against him. He has pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, one count of wire fraud, and one count of accessing a computer to defraud and obtain value.
Details of the case
According to Golshan’s plea agreement, he engaged in various fraudulent online schemes from April 2019 to February 2023. These schemes included social media account takeovers, Zelle payment fraud, and impersonating Apple support. The total losses caused by Golshan’s actions amount to approximately $740,000 over several years.
Background of the Case
Introduction to ‘SIM swapping’
SIM swapping is a fraudulent practice that involves tricking a carrier into reassigning a cell phone number from a legitimate subscriber’s SIM card to a SIM card controlled by the fraudster. By gaining control of the victim’s phone number, the fraudster can bypass two-step authentication measures and take control of the victim’s various accounts.
Explanation of social media account takeovers
Social media account takeovers occur when a fraudster gains unauthorized access to a person’s social media account. This can be done through various means, such as obtaining login credentials or exploiting security vulnerabilities. Once the fraudster has control of the account, they can impersonate the account owner and carry out fraudulent activities.
The Defendant’s Actions
Description of online schemes
Amir Hossein Golshan executed multiple online schemes to defraud hundreds of victims. These schemes involved various fraudulent activities, including SIM swapping, social media account takeovers, Zelle payment fraud, and impersonating Apple support personnel.
Breakdown of different fraudulent activities
Golshan’s fraudulent activities targeted individuals and their digital assets. Through SIM swapping and social media account takeovers, he manipulated victims and their online friends into sending him money. He also engaged in Zelle merchant fraud, falsely advertising fake Instagram services and fraudulently obtaining payments from victims. Furthermore, Golshan impersonated Apple Support personnel to gain unauthorized access to victims’ Apple iCloud accounts and steal valuable digital property, including NFTs and cryptocurrency.
Victims and Damages
Number of victims affected
Golshan’s actions resulted in a large number of victims. While the exact number is not specified, it is mentioned that he defrauded hundreds of victims.
Financial losses suffered by victims
The financial losses inflicted upon Golshan’s victims amount to approximately $740,000. These losses were incurred over several years and are a result of the various fraudulent schemes carried out by Golshan.
SIM Swapping and Social Media Account Takeovers
Explanation of SIM swapping
SIM swapping is a technique used by fraudsters to gain unauthorized access to accounts by tricking carriers into reassigning a cell phone number to a SIM card controlled by the fraudster. This allows the fraudster to receive authentication messages and take control of the victim’s various accounts.
Methods used by the defendant to take over Instagram accounts
Golshan employed SIM swapping as a means to take over Instagram accounts. He would trick victims into providing their phone numbers, posing as their friends on social media. Once he gained control of the victim’s Instagram account, he would impersonate the victim and request money from their friends through platforms like Zelle and PayPal.
Zelle Merchant Fraud
How the defendant advertised fake Instagram services
Golshan fraudulently advertised fake and non-existent Instagram services to individual victims. He would falsely represent on Instagram that he could provide verified Instagram badges or other services in exchange for payment. However, Golshan knew that only Instagram could provide such services.
Amount of money fraudulently obtained through Zelle
Through his fraudulent Zelle schemes, Golshan obtained approximately $82,000 in payments from around 500 victims. These payments were made in increments of $300 to $500 per victim.
Apple Support Fraud and NFT/Cryptocurrency Theft
Impersonation of Apple Support personnel
To gain unauthorized access to victims’ Apple iCloud accounts, Golshan impersonated Apple Support employees. He would contact victims and falsely claim to be an Apple Support employee, deceiving them into providing sensitive information that allowed him to gain control of their accounts.
Description of stolen digital property
By gaining unauthorized access to victims’ Apple iCloud accounts, Golshan stole valuable digital property, including NFTs and cryptocurrency. The stolen assets included an NFT valued at approximately $319,000 and approximately $70,000 worth of cryptocurrency. He then sold the stolen NFT for $130,000 in cryptocurrency.
Sentencing hearing date
Amir Hossein Golshan is scheduled to appear for his sentencing hearing on November 27. At this hearing, he could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud count, and up to five years in federal prison for each of the computer access counts.
Potential prison sentence
Given the severity of Golshan’s actions and the financial losses suffered by his victims, there is a possibility that he could receive a significant prison sentence. The exact sentence will be determined by the court based on the facts of the case and any relevant sentencing guidelines.
Investigation and Prosecution
Involvement of the FBI
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was involved in the investigation of Golshan’s fraudulent activities. The FBI’s involvement highlights the seriousness and impact of cybercrime and financial fraud in today’s digital landscape.
Name of prosecuting attorney
The prosecuting attorney in this case is Assistant United States Attorney Andrew M. Roach. Roach is a member of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section and is responsible for prosecuting Golshan’s case.
Other press releases related to cybercrime and financial fraud
For more information on cybercrime and financial fraud cases, interested individuals can refer to other press releases from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California. These press releases provide additional insight into the ongoing efforts to combat cybercrime and protect individuals from fraudulent activities.
In conclusion, the case against Amir Hossein Golshan highlights the dangers of SIM swapping and social media account takeovers. His fraudulent activities caused significant financial losses to numerous victims. The case also demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, in investigating and prosecuting cybercrime cases. As technology continues to advance, it is crucial for individuals to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to protect themselves from online threats.